The UK’s national health provider NHS England has confirmed it won’t roll out HIV prevention medication PrEP in the country, shocking health advocates.
Also known by its brand name Truvada, the costly medication can be taken daily by HIV negative people at high risk of infection to dramatically reduce that risk.
But in a statement NHS England said “local authorities are the responsible commissioner for HIV prevention services” and they would not provide PrEP to gay men because to do so would “present risk of legal challenge from proponents of other ‘candidate’ treatments and interventions that could be displaced by PrEP if NHS England were to commission it.”
The decision comes after 18 months of urging from an NHS working group consisting of experts from across the HIV sector which demonstrated the need, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of PrEP.
Deborah Gold, chief executive of the UK’s The National AIDS Trust (NAT), said: “We are extremely disappointed and will be looking at our options, including further legal action.
“NHS England is sitting on something which could be the beginning of the end for the HIV epidemic if only it were made available. The refusal to commission it is astonishing.”
Meanwhile, earlier this month Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration approved PrEP for HIV prevention, in what was described as a major breakthrough.
But, like the UK, until the drug is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme it will remain too costly for most men to access.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is considering funding Truvada for PrEP at its July meeting.